Posts Tagged ‘Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina’

This year and last, we’ve been thrilled to host the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual meeting and music festival in Raleigh. Seeing the breadth of talent in the genre today and the massive number of people interested in a form of music that has strong ties to the western part of our state has truly been amazing.

So, now that you’ve been to (or at least heard of) IBMA and bluegrass, you’re probably wondering what more there is to explore. The answer is simple: a lot.

To get you started here are six Tar Heel bluegrass destinations and events you won’t want to miss:

1. The Earl Scruggs Center, Shelby, Cleveland County


Named in honor of bluegrass legend and Cleveland County native Earl Scruggs, this spectacular museum opened to wide acclaim earlier this year and explores Scruggs and the roots of the music genre he came to dominate.

2. Red, White and Bluegrass, Morganton, Burke County


Held annualy on the Fourth of July, there’s no better way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than at this festival, one of North Carolina’s largest music events.

3. The Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, Mount Airy, Surry County


One of the more significant of the music festivals held in the Blue Ridge area every summer, this convention celebrates the fame Surry County musicians have achieved throughout the nation.

4. MerleFest, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County


One of the nation’s premiere music events, this annual festival honors Watauga County bluegrass stars Doc and Merle Watson and draws nearly 75,000 attendees each year.

5. Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention, Yadkinville, Yakdin County

A throwback to the more traditional, smaller music contests of yesteryear, this annual event has become a favorite among bluegrass and old-time music fans and musicians alike.

6The BarnEden, Rockingham County


Not many people create a music venue in their front yard, but that’s exactly what Jerry and Debbie Wilson did just a few years ago. Stop by on any Tuesday night to see and hear bluegrass and gospel bands play in the Wilsons’ barn.

These six places and events are just a few tips to get you started exploring the Old North State’s rich bluegrass culture and heritage. Pick up a copy of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, produced by the N.C. Arts Council and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, or check out the book’s companion website for more great ideas.

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Despite the not-so-friendly skies outside, Sec. Susan Kluttz joined a large crowd of people from 13 different states to dedicate a new museum to banjo innovator Earl Scruggs in Shelby in early January.

The Cleveland County native and famous bluegrass musician is perhaps best known for his unique three-finger picking style and for elevating the banjo from a rhythm instrument to a lead instrument. Today, the banjo is played all over the world, and its popularity can be traced back to Earl Scruggs and North Carolina.

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources was a key partner in the project, collaborating with local partners in bringing the Earl Scruggs Center to fruition. Staff from the N.C. Arts Council assisted in developing an exhibit plan, funding parts of the permanent exhibit and providing leads for fundraising. The Historic Preservation Office also advised on how to renovate the courthouse, which is home to the museum, so that it retains its historical character.

Perhaps most importantly, the Arts Council continues to promote the Earl Scruggs Center through its Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina cultural tourism initiative. The initiative, which was developed in tandem with Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, holds the Earl Scruggs Center up as one of its key venues. Click here to learn more about the Blue Ridge Music Trails guidebook and companion web component.

You can also read more about Scruggs’s life here and learn more about the new museum and its opening festivities here.

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Secretary Kluttz welcomes IBMA attendees to Raleigh

Did you know that Japan has more than 35 bluegrass music festivals each year? Cultural Resources Sec. Susan Kluttz didn’t, but found out when she welcomed the crowd to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Special Awards Luncheon. This luncheon recognized those professionals and organizations that work “behind-the-scenes” in the bluegrass industry, and is IBMA’s opportunity to give out awards for distinguished achievement – Best Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year, Bluegrass Event of the Year, Best Songwriter of the Year, Distinguished Achievement Awards and more.

The Secretary especially enjoyed learning about the Ozaki brothers who are known as ‘the fathers of bluegrass music’ in Japan. They were one of five recipients of the prestigious 2013 IBMA Distinguished Achievement Awards. The East Mountain Boys, as their group is called, started in 1958 and they learned to love and play bluegrass by listening to the Armed Services radio network during WWII.

Throughout the luncheon, it was overheard many times how the guests from around the world were enjoying Raleigh and our southern hospitality. We’re happy to welcome them back for another two years!

Be sure to pick up a copy of Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, a project of the N.C. Arts Council, to see how you can experience North Carolina music traditions year-round!

Check out more photos from the event here.

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